Special to 0-A News
from Walter Albritton
for Jan. 1, 2000

One resolution enough as the year 2000 begins

Once again the question is before us: Shall we make new year resolutions? My answer is always the same--Yes! Why not? Sure they will be hard to keep, but life is fruitless without effort so it seems wise to make the effort to improve the way we live.

A new year gives us a chance to start over. We can begin more diligently to embrace the disciplines that we know will improve our quality of life. The goal is not simply to live longer but to live each day with more meaning and joy.

The number one resolution on everybody's list is to lose weight. But even though my doctor says I need to lose a 100 pounds, I am going to pass on this one. It has not worked for 40 years so there is no reason to suppose it would work in the new millenium. I will simply stay on my present plan of trying to eat better food and less of it.

The second most popular resolution is to exercise more. Most of us are convinced that we do not exercise enough. I will admit that more regular exercise is one of my needs too. But on this one also I am going to pass since I am already trying to make rigorous exercise a priority.

A third area of resolutions for most people is that of relationships with other people. Many of us need to resolve to let go of our anger and resentment toward those who have hurt us. We know that resentment can kill us and that the only answer is to get rid of these ugly, destructive feelings so that we can enjoy life again.

Again I will pass on this one. Not that my heart is pure and completely free of negative feelings. It is not. But I am already working on this problem. I have worked on it every day for years. The moment resentment pops up, it must be dealt with decisively so that a bad attitude is not allowed to fester.

The one thing that helps me most in this regard is to remember that I am often guilty myself of the very things that irritate me about others. I too have the gift of saying stupid things that hurt others. I too can stir up anger and resentment in the hearts of others with careless remarks and dumb comments. Remembering that about myself helps me more quickly to forgive that behavior in others.

So what are my new resolutions? Make that singular, not plural. One resolution will be enough for me for the year 2000. By limiting myself to one, I figure I have a better chance of keeping it for the entire year.

My one resolution is this: I resolve to make room for more tranquility in my life. I am sick and tired of so much noise. The steady increase of noise in the world is quite maddening. Somebody has got to say, "Enough!" So I volunteer to say it.

The cynic may say that I am simply getting older and losing my hearing. That is true to some extent, but that is not the whole story. No, the volume of noise in the world is steadily increasing by leaps and bounds.

Take restaurants, for example. Say you want to take the wife out and buy a nice steak. Well get ready to be bombed out of your mind by the noise level most anywhere you go.

Over the holidays my wife and I went out to eat with our son Steve, his wife Amy, and their sons Jacob, 8, and Josh, 4. I refused to go to one "Steak House" which is on my black list on the grounds that one, I like to see what I am eating, and two, I like to hear what the people at my table are saying. Neither is possible at the expensive steak place which I have decided to boycott, and which shall remain nameless. The food is excellent but the environment is lousy. And the environment is important.

So we chose another steak place to which I had not been before. And, if I live and breathe, I am not going back there. Again the food was delicious, but what a price we had to pay in noise! The music was so loud I thought I would die. It mattered not to me that the music was some country singer singing Christmas carols. What bothered me was that it was so loud that my eardrums were begging for mercy!

The lighting was fine in this place. I could actually see my plate. But for 45 minutes I sat there and smiled at my family, hoping that I would not say "OK" when I should have said "No." As for the sound I have given up on pleading with the waitress to turn the volume down. I am sure the waitress, having said to me, "Sure, no problem," walks to the back and doubles up laughing as she says to another waitress, "That old goat thinks I am going to turn the music down!"

I might be willing to put up with an offensive atmosphere if the price was right at these steak houses. But that's not the case. They are proud of their food, so proud that they want $45 for two steaks, a salad and baked potato. If I pay that much for a meal for two, I want a little peace and quiet along with it.

My goal then for the new millenium is to arrange for more quiet times in my life, especially at mealtime. If music is played, then I want some choice in the matter. I want to be involved in who sings or plays, and how high the volume is turned.

If this situation can only happen at my own home, then this year I will be eating out less frequently. But in the years that remain I am going to insist on finding some peace and quiet for my noise-weary soul. That's my resolution to go after more peace and tranquility, especially when I am eating a good meal. Life is simply too short to spend any more of it in places where people I don't even know pound unmercifully on my eardrums.

Sweet peace and quiet here I come!